One of my earliest memories is of being five or six and having my father, a spicy food fanatic, make me eat one of the dried chilis that comes in kung pao chicken. That was the day I learned that the best antidote to a mouth on fire is not water or even milk, but mouthfuls of plain, steamed white rice. It was also the beginning of my own descent into what my mother felt was madness. From then on, my dad and I were like a cult, only instead of a god we worshipped capsaicin. We went to fancy hot sauce stores on vacation.